SC junks challenge vs cutting of trees in Nayong Pilipino for mega-vaccination site

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 22 2021 06:31 PM

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CAPTION: Not a lush forest but a vacant lot, the Razon camp said of the proposed mega vaccination site in Nayong Pilipino. Courtesy of Katrina Razon

MANILA — The Supreme Court has dismissed a former mayor's challenge against the cutting of trees in Nayong Pilipino to make way for a temporary mega-vaccination facility

In a 3-page resolution dated June 15, the High Court junked former Boac mayor and former Marinduque board member Pedrito Nepomuceno’s petition for the issuance of a writ of kalikasan and mandamus due to “insufficiency in form and substance.”

WRIT OF KALIKASAN PETITION

A writ of kalikasan is a legal remedy to protect the constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology if violated or threatened to be violated by an unlawful act or omission of a public official or employee or private individual or entity. The environmental damage must affect the life, health or property of inhabitants of 2 or more cities or provinces.

Nepomuceno filed the petition on May 11, a month after the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases approved the putting up of a temporary mega-vaccination facility in Nayong Pilipino’s compound in Pasay City.

The Nayong Pilipino Foundation opposed the project as it would require cutting down nearly 500 trees although its proponents, including the Department of Tourism, claimed the facility will be built on reclaimed land and no trees will be cut.

Malacañang backed the facility, which was to financed by billionaire Enrique Razon Jr.'s International Container Terminal Services Inc. without cost to the government.

The Nayong Pilipino Foundation executive director eventually resigned.

 
In his petition, Nepomuceno said the project will violate environmental laws, claiming the proposed vaccination center did not undergo the mandatory environmental impact analysis of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and did not have an environmental compliance certificate. 

He also alleged there was no coordination with the local government unit and the project violated the law creating the Nayong Pilipino Foundation.

SC RULING

The High Court said Nepomuceno's petition lacked formal requirements -- it was unsigned, unverified, and did not have a certification of non-forum shopping.

It also had no proof of service of copies of the petition to adverse parties and payment of Sheriff's trust fund.

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Nepomuceno, the court noted, failed to identify environmental laws that were violated or threatened to be violated and the impact to life, health or property of inhabitants of 2 or more cities or provinces to warrant the issuance of a writ of kalikasan. 

He also did not show unlawful neglect on part of public officers.

“Nepomuceno's invocation of the State's responsibilities to protect and advance the people's right to a balanced and healthful ecology and preserve and protect the environment, without identifying the respondents' unlawful act or omission, is insufficient to justify the issuance of the writs prayed for,” SC said.

The court added that Nepomuceno's petition was not supported by material evidence as it relied on unverified news articles culled from the internet.

“Verily, unverified news articles on the internet are hearsay evidence, twice removed, and are thus without any probative value,” it said.

The resolution was signed by SC clerk of court Marife Lomibao-Cuevas.